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SB Nation Reacts: Do fans in the stands make the playoffs more enjoyable?

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NBA: Playoffs-Washington Wizards at Philadelphia 76ers Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to SB Nation Reacts, a survey of fans across the NBA. Each week, we send out questions to the most plugged-in Philadelphia 76ers fans and fans across the country. Sign up here to join Reacts.

According to the most recent SB Nation Reacts survey, a full 100 percent of responding 76ers fans are confident the team is headed in the right direction. That level has held steady for most of the season.

When it comes to the Sixers series against the Wizards in particular, fans are anticipating a gentleman’s sweep — the Sixers taking the series in five games with their fourth, series-clinching win coming at home after games 3 and 4 on the road.

But who comes next? If/when the Sixers advance to the next round of the Eastern Conference playoffs, they are slated to take on the winner of the Atlanta Hawks-New York Knicks series. We polled Sixers fans to find out who they’d rather the Sixers take on in round two. 73 percent of voters indicated that they would prefer the Sixers tip-off against the Knicks.

With the first-round of the playoffs underway, the most noticeable difference in the games has been the addition of nearly full crowds. More than 50 percent of fans around the country said the inclusion of fans has significantly improved the viewing experience, only 16 percent said it hasn’t improved the experience at all.

Yeah, I can’t get on board with that 16%. Fans in the stands are a critical part of the environment that makes sports so much fun. To say that the reintroduction of fans to the arenas “hasn’t improved the experience at all” is ridiculous to me. The jagaloon that poured popcorn on Russell Westbrook? That guy can kick rocks. But everyone else in the stands of Sixers playoff games? The crowd brings an energy that players feed off. Maybe it doesn’t impact their play, maybe it does. But I’m suspicious we get as many celebrations like the following if there aren’t fans in attendance.

Having fans in attendance provides at least the semblance of a home-court advantage. Fewer than half of 76ers fans believe Philadelphia would have finished the regular season with a better record had fans been in attendance all season long.

I can agree with the slight majority of “no” here. While I just wrote that fans bring an energy to the arena, the greatest benefit of home court advantage is more about rest and not having to travel. Flying in highly pressurized cabins, switching time zones, sleeping somewhere unfamiliar — these things throw off a person’s circadian rhythm and disrupt sleep, ultimately impacting performance. So fans in the stands or not, the greatest advantage of home court is simply that you get to stay home.

With the rest of fans around the country watching at home, there is no shortage of great opening round series to enjoy. 30 percent of fans around the country believe the Phoenix Suns vs. Los Angeles Lakers series is the best of the group. The New York Knicks series against the Atlanta Hawks is the next most popular choice, with 21 percent of the vote. Four percent of fans picked the 76ers series against the Washington Wizards.

To vote in the Reacts surveys and have your voice heard each week, sign up here.

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